The Explorers Club

Freedom Wind

Dead Oceans

OK, so it came out six months ago. But this secret needs to be let out of the bag: These Beach (Boy) combers from the coastal town of Charleston, S.C., are happening! Forget what the label’s press release says about traces of ELO, Apples in Stereo, McCartney, etc. The Explorers Club draws comparisons to those bands because those bands were influenced by the Beach Boys!

And sure, this debut album is like cut-and-paste (and slice, dice and chop, not to mention blend and puree) from the BB’s mid-60s output, but any serious fan will notice it also pulls from the band’s ’70s, Carl Wilson-led output for Warner Bros. Case in point: “Honey I Don’t Know Why,” an excellent reworking of “You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone” from 1972’s “Carl and the Passions: So Tough.”

Different people will hear different things on different songs, but “Don’t Forget the Sun” undeniably sounds like “Don’t Worry Baby,” “(I Wish They All Could Be) California Girls” and “Little Saint Nick.” Who would’ve thought those three songs could be rolled into one like that? 

What about “Lost My Head”? Well, all right, maybe there is an oh-so-subtle touch of that robot vocal from Jeff Lynne’s “Mr. Blue Sky” applied to this gentle melding of “Cabin Essence” with just about all the other songs on “SMiLE.”

“Do You Love Me,” using the rhythm from “Do It Again” as bedrock, seemingly employs every trick Brian Wilson learned from Phil Spector, down to the sleigh bells and glockenspiel. And “Summer Air” sounds vaguely like both instrumentals on “Pet Sounds” — only, instead of a lead vibraphone or electric guitar, there’s some kind of wonderfully weird organ-theremin interplay.

What, no bass harmonica? You bet there is, just not until “In the Country,” where it’s featured alongside more “SMiLE”-ing banjo plus eloquent, sublime, practically unnoticeable pedal steel and farfisa organ. The train-whistle vocal effect near the beginning is like eating dessert before dinner — mighty tasty!

Get the idea yet? It’s Beach Boys to infinity, and beyond. The Explorers Club must have been eating, sleeping and breathing Wilson Bros. when creating this mind-blowing distillation of all the best bits. They hit the nail on the head, though, by skipping the early surf stuff and throwing in some of their own left-field moves.gnm_end_bug

1. Forever
2. Honey I Don’t Know Why
3. Don’t Forget The Sun
4. Lost My Head
5. Do You Love Me?
6. Summer Air
7. If You Go
8. In The Country
9. Safe Distance
10. Hold Me Tight
11. Last Kiss
12. Freedom Wind

Total time: 34:36

External links
artist’s website
iTunes Store

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